The Kings had trouble getting top draft prospects in for workouts last year.
Despite hiring highly respected Scott Perry, reportedly not much has changed in Sacramento – and the Kings have company.
Multiple NBA agents told me that they were determined to keep their clients from working out for Sacramento.
“It would be malpractice to let my clients play for them,” one longtime agent said. “I’ve had clients there. It’s still the most dysfunctional front office in the league, by a mile. How can you trust those guys with one of your players? It’s going to take a long time to build that trust.”
Several agents told me that they were considering holding their clients out of workouts with the Boston Celtics as well.
The Celtics are loaded with players at every position. The fear is that — much like No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown this year — their clients would have to spend the next few years coming off the bench. That’s not what most top prospects in the draft want. They want a chance to start and lead a franchise right away.
“I have deep respect for the Celtics,” one agent said. “They may have the best GM and head coach in the league. But I’d have to understand what the plan would be for my client before I let them come. They are loaded at every position. There’s a real danger that they take a player and either he plays a limited role of the bench, or he becomes an asset to be traded to a situation that we’re uncomfortable with. It’s tough.
There appears to be at least some shift in Sacramento (tied in part to the hiring of Perry). Markelle Fultz reportedly interviewed with the Kings. Sources also told NBC’s Kurt Helin that a number of top 20 projected picks (the Kings likely will have picks 8 and 10) have scheduled workouts with the team, those have yet to be announced. That said, Sacramento’s major concerns for agents have not changed: Owner Vivek Ranadive has overseen a toxic culture, and general manager Vlade Divac keeps alienating agents. Agents fear a poor environment for young players to develop. The Kings want desperately to change that perception.
The Celtics’ situation is in the eye of the beholder. I thought Jaylen Brown’s role – a steady rotation spot with 17 minutes per game and 20 starts – was a healthy one for him. I thought it alleviated concerns about how Boston would use its high picks, not compound them. Brad Stevens has excellently helped develop players and positioned them to thrive, and I’d trust the Celtics with a top prospect.
Ultimately, players and agents have only so much control of the draft process. They can’t stop Boston or Sacramento from drafting someone, and I’d advise both teams to draft the top prospects regardless. That might be more difficult to determine without private workouts, but getting good players is the most important step to solving any problem.
The Kings, likely with two lottery picks, have more leverage than last year. Depending how the lottery lands, certain agents might rethink their approach if a client is positioned in either team’s range.
But for now I understand steering clear of Sacramento and, to a lesser degree, Boston.